Braaten beats Burwick in all-around

Alex Braaten nearly cost herself an all-around championship on the first rotation of the individual portion of the North Dakota state gymnastics meet.

Alex Braaten
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Grand Forks senior Alex Braaten resets herself after nearly falling off the balance beam during Saturday's individual competition at the state gymnastics tournament at Dickinson High School. Braaten won the all-around state championship with a score of 37.633.

Alex Braaten nearly cost herself an all-around championship on the first rotation of the individual portion of the North Dakota state gymnastics meet.

Starting out the day on the balance beam, the Grand Forks senior caught herself stumbling and steadied her form. That single moment saved her a half-point deduction and set her on a course for the meet of her life on Saturday afternoon at the Dickinson High School gymnasium.

About three hours after her near fall, Braaten stuck her landing flying off the uneven parallel bars and solidified her first all-around state championship with a total score of 37.633. Braaten's score of 9.7 on the bars was also good enough for a state title.

"I've always been strong in bars," Braaten said. "The big bar score helped me a lot. ... Sticking my landing and nailing that really helped me a lot."

Grand Forks coach Kari Riendeau couldn't stop smiling in the moments following the meet's awards ceremony.


"You couldn't slap the smile off my face," Riendeau said.

Braaten, who also had the high all-around score of all gymnasts during Friday's team competition with a 37.383, achieved her all-around title with a 9.217 on the vault and a 9.317 on the floor exercise. She even salvaged a third-place score of 9.4 on the balance beam.

Dickinson coach Kent Van Ells was happy to see a senior win the all-around -- something not all that common -- despite watching Braaten edge out his own gymnast, Midgets sophomore Brogan Burwick, for the title.

"She (Braaten) is just a beautiful gymnast," Van Ells said. "It's one of those things where we see them so rarely. She's just beautiful to watch. Her bars had some really unusual skills in them and it really shows off her talent. It's really nice to see a senior win the all-around."

Burwick was the runner-up for the second consecutive season.

She lost to Bismarck's Mackenzie Keidel by one-tenth of a point last season and fell a bit further behind Braaten with a 37.383.

However, Burwick won the second event state championship of her career by nailing her beam routine for a score of 9.483. Last season, she won the uneven parallel bars title.

"I just went up there and I nailed everything," Burwick said. "You have to go up there knowing you can do it and that's what I did. I didn't have any bobbles."


Burwick needed a 9.55 on the floor exercise, her final event, to force a tie with Braaten. She scored a 9.3 to go along with a 9.217 in the vault and a fourth-place score of 9.383 in the bars.

"It feels good to get second, but it's just not first," Burwick said. "I'm getting closer and closer every year. I've just got to work hard this summer and maybe it'll happen next year."

Burwick was one of two Dickinson gymnasts to win state titles.

Kelsey Dukart picked up where she left off Friday and once again rocked her floor exercise routine for a title-winning score of 9.667. She edged defending champion Brittany Johnson, a Grand Forks senior who had a 9.633.

"It felt pretty good," Dukart said. "After I was done, it felt like I nailed it."

Minot had another big day.

The Majettes took fourth through seventh place in the all-around and sophomore Brooklyn Bender won her second consecutive state championship in the vault with a score of 9.6.

Bender tied for fourth in the all-around with her teammate, freshman Payton Ringoen. They had scores of 36.983. Minot eighth-grader Samantha Huether was fifth with a 36.967 and freshman Misha Taylor was seventh with a 36.8.


Senior Joley Beeler, who finished 13th in the all-around and tied for sixth on the floor exercise, was named senior athlete of the year.

Minot, which won the team title on Friday night with a score of 147.283, improved on that showing today. Even though the score didn't count for anything else but for a measuring stick, the Majettes scored a season-high 148.933 while having the highest team totals on both vault and balance beam.

"That's super," Minot coach Pam Tweeten said. "That beats our high for the year by over a point. ... Last night was a big high. I was just hoping they could still pull it back up again."

Bender, who was one of the favorites to win the all-around title, had a few slips on beam and her floor exercise that forced her out of title contention.

"It's something I definitely want to work for next year," Bender said. "I just went out there and tried to do my best and I did OK today."

Brogan Burwick
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson sophomore Brogan Burwick swings on the uneven parallel bars during the state gymnastics meet's individual competition Saturday. Burwick finished second in the all-around.

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